Seeking a one-stop-shop for all their board governance needs, Barrow County Schools turned to Simbli’s ‘Core Four’ to manage meetings, strategic planning, board policies, and performance evaluations for the school district.
An eBOARDsolutions customer for more than 9 years, Barrow County manages 74 different meetings types, 20 different plans, and conducts both the Board and Superintendent evaluations using Simbli.
Align work of schools with different governance boards at both the school and district levels.
Simbli provides all stakeholders access to strategically aligned system and school level meetings, policies, and system level action plans which are cascaded to the school level, as well as system and school based Balanced Scorecards containing performance data.
Aligning the Work of the Schools, District, and Board
The Barrow County School System‘s vision of being Boldly Committed to Student Success is fully supported by both internal and external stakeholders and is completely aligned with student learning. The process of evaluating the system’s purpose and beliefs is an ongoing one.
A broad-based group of stakeholders formally re-evaluates the vision, mission and belief statements at least every five years.
Once the Board of Education has approved the recommendation of the committee, consisting of business leaders, parents, staff and students, the superintendent and the executive cabinet cascade these expectations down through all levels of leadership to the students in the classroom.
The Barrow County School System utilizes Simbli as a tool in this process in order to be transparent in governance and operations. The Simbli site includes the most recent information concerning Board of Education meetings, local School Governance Team meetings, strategic plan, policies, evaluations, system news and calendars. Simbli ensures that the vision and purpose of the school system remains current and aligned with the system’s expectations in support of student learning and the effectiveness of the school system and its schools.
The Core Four in Action
Barrow County’s strategic plan includes the Balanced Scorecard for the system as well as individual schools. The system utilizes the Balanced Scorecard to define, measure, and monitor data that gives a detailed picture of performance.
The Barrow County School System uses both individual school data and system-wide data as the driving force for directing and improving student achievement. Each school utilizes this data to develop a Balanced Scorecard which directly ties into the overall system goals. The disaggregated data is used to identify areas of deficiencies and to develop strategies that facilitate improvement. Central office staff members assist the schools in the development of individual school plans.
These plans are reviewed at a minimum annually and can be reviewed more often if the need arises. Barrow County has highly qualified and experienced support personnel in place to help facilitate the system’s expectations in support of student learning.
The Barrow County School System recently completed a thorough policy revision process. The system formed five separate committees that included Board members, teachers, and staff to review every policy for relevancy and to ensure that they were also aligned with the system’s vision and mission. A systemic process has been adopted for more frequent reviews.
Board meetings, School Governance Team meetings, and various departmental meetings are posted to Simbli and each item of business is linked to a specific goal(s). Minutes of meetings are posted publicly to provide further transparency for all stakeholders.
Members of the Board and executive cabinet meet for an annual strategic planning retreat to review the progress for meeting the system’s goals, to establish expectations for student learning, and to determine how and what resources of personnel, money and materials may be available to support those needs and expectations. The mission, vision and beliefs are the driving force in those decisions and discussions.
The Board’s self-assessment, superintendent’s evaluation, and leadership evaluations are processed privately through Simbli and linked to specific performance indicators and measurements.
School Governance Teams (SGTs) are comprised of the principal, teachers, community members, parents and students. The SGTs meet monthly to ensure that each school remains aligned with system goals and that all stakeholders are aware of current issues.
The annual Leadership Summit and monthly District Leadership Meetings provide opportunities for reinforcing the system message and enhancing effective leadership skills by focusing on results, building relationships, and encouraging open communication.
Working Towards Common Goals
How does Simbli help your district with transparency and accountability?
Our district encourages stakeholders to be active participants in our work through the utilization of Simbli – a tool that serves as our district communication and engagement tool. Through the utilization of the Meetings module, our district meets the open meetings act requirements and increases transparency by posting agendas that include item narratives and supporting resources along with minutes, which are each aligned with system strategic goals. Our accountability system becomes transparent by housing system and school strategic action plans and Balanced Scorecards on Simbli where all stakeholders have access to identified goals, actions, performance targets, and annual progress reporting.
How does Simbli help your district align your work (plans, meetings, and policies)?
Simbli is our consolidated tool for all stakeholders to access strategically aligned system an school level meetings, policies, and system level action plans which are cascaded to the school level, as well as system and school-based Balanced Scorecards containing performance data. The format and coding used in Simbli modules support our district belief that any agenda item or implemented strategy must have documented linkage to system strategic goals and also be correlated with Board adopted policies. An additional benefit is the ability for individuals to use the electronic platform to easily access meetings and plans to gain knowledge of successful strategies.
How does Simbli provide cost savings and efficiency to your organization?
The cloud-based platform allows our stakeholders to access resources at any time, from any location, ensuring that participants have all needed information. The Meetings module allows us to conduct numerous paperless meetings, resulting in savings of time, and money being spent on paper, ink, notebooks and folders. The district accreditation module has allowed our team to create an electronic portfolio for review by our stakeholders and the visiting SACS CASI review team. The Evaluation module provides an opportunity to conduct a 360 reflective practice assessment while also reviewing uploaded artifacts and evidence for the Board self-assessment, superintendents, and building level leaders.
What advice can you give other school systems wanting to maximize their use of Simbli?
We suggest that systems create a map for full implementation, receive training, identify a person that will be your district module expert, and commit to working with the tool until you feel proficient. As our system has incorporated the utilization of additional modules we have first implemented the work at the system level. This practice has allowed us to learn about each module, work through any issues, and build system capacity before cascading it to our schools and other areas within our district. We feel it is critical to model the expectations. Once begun, the expanded use of Simbli just comes naturally.